Jeff Hornacek needs to reshape Knicks’ triangle to fit Rose

Maybe Derrick Rose just doesn’t understand the meaning of defer.

Can you imagine the outcry if Russell Westbrook opened the season with one assist in a 29-point loss? There would be an internal investigation.

Upon further review it would have been in the best interests of both Rose and the Knicks had the team’s new point guard flown from Los Angeles to New York during those three-day breaks in his civil trial earlier this month. All those missed practices hurt him.

The predictable result was a 117-88 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, where the Knicks looked out of sync and unprepared. They have only themselves to blame.

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Rose hasn’t been around much, but in his brief time here he’s made it abundantly clear that Phil Jackson’s baby, the triangle offense, confuses and frustrates him. Rose isn’t being a malcontent. He’s merely echoing the thoughts of a majority of his teammates as well as those of head coach Jeff Hornacek, despite Hornacek’s futile attempt recently to explain away his very revealing “guys don’t like to run it” line.

Hornacek went into full damage control mode to avoid giving the impression that he and Jackson aren’t on the same page when it comes to the offense. The best Hornacek could do a few weeks ago was to say he was referring to other players in the league, not the Knicks. So to recap, Hornacek surveyed the entire league and discovered that no one likes running the triangle except for the 15 players on his roster. Got it. Hornacek is new here so let’s give him a pass on this one.

Jeff Hornacek knew what he was getting himself into when he signed up to work for Phil Jackson.

Jeff Hornacek knew what he was getting himself into when he signed up to work for Phil Jackson.

(Phil Long/AP)

Triangle or no triangle, there’s still no excuse for a point guard of Rose’s caliber recording one lousy assist. His shots to assists ratio was an unsightly 17 to 1. In this same game, LeBron James had 14 assists.

“You see with Cleveland, they run pick and roll the entire game,” said Rose, who added the Cavs offense created mismatches and led to open 3-pointers.

Derrick Rose and Knicks look far from ‘Super Team’

“That’s something we have to keep doing,” he said.

Loosely translated, Rose is in favor of ditching the triangle for good. Hornacek knows this and deep down he has to feel that running a more modern offense is the way to go. Instead, Hornacek is placating Jackson and trying to stay true to himself by limiting the triangle sets to dead ball situations and after made free throws. On the one hand, you feel badly for Hornacek that he feels obligated to run an offense he believes can’t work. And yet, he signed up for this knowing that Derek Fisher was fired for trying to phase out Phil’s triangle.

Sure, it’s only one game and there is only one LeBron. And considering the starting lineup had not played together prior to the season opener, the Knicks never stood a chance on a once-in-a-lifetime night for the city of Cleveland. LeBron is also 3-0 on ring night.

Derrick Rose.

Derrick Rose.

(Phil Long/AP)

But there are two major issues that Hornacek, Jackson and the new point guard have to figure out over the last 81 games. For starters, the Knicks have to make a full-blown commitment to Kristaps Porzingis. This would be a lost season if the Knicks don’t feature Porzingis more by running high pick and rolls and sticking him in the low post. That would take both Carmelo Anthony and Rose sacrificing. That’s doable.

There’s no defending the Knicks’ dreadful defense

The bigger issue is the Knicks establishing an identity on both ends of the court. They need to play much better defensively. “They’re unorganized, and in the NBA you can’t be unorganized on the defensive end,” said one scout.

That’s on Hornacek, who also needs to trust his instincts and run an offense that works for everyone on the roster, including the point guard. Rose is a former MVP who made his living from running pick and rolls and attacking the basket. In the triangle, he hands the ball off and runs into the corner.

This would require the president of the Knicks to make a sacrifice before this season starts to resemble the last two.

Tags:
nba
new york knicks
jeff hornacek
derrick rose

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